NFL Game Picks: Week 3
Danny Murray, Zac Kaye and Mike Brown break down the latest news in the NFC East, as the Cowboys, Redskins, Eagles and Giants prepare for Week 3:
We’re only two weeks through the new NFL season and the drama is already heating up. Thanks to injuries and benchings, longtime quarterbacking staples in Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Eli Manning will all be absent from the lineup for the first time since 2004. How will that impact their respective teams’ performances going forward? Let’s talk about that in the Week 3 edition of the NFL game picks.
Tennessee Titans (1-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
It always seems like these teams meet on Thursday night at some point in the season for a spectacularly terrible game, but perhaps this is the one to change that trend. Marcus Mariota is actually looking decent early on, and Gardner Minshew is already showing promise as Jacksonville’s replacement for an injured Nick Foles. The Jaguars really need to sort out the run game though, as they couldn’t do a thing on the ground against Houston. Let’s not forget these defenses, both of which could very well end up in the top five by season’s end. Maybe the stars are finally aligning for a decent Thursday night game between these two. Maybe.
Prediction: Jacksonville 22, Tennessee 18
Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
For one half of football, the Falcons defense looked unstoppable. Then it fell back to Earth as Carson Wentz and the Eagles gave Atlanta their all in a wild comeback attempt. The Falcons are going to need more of that first-half defense if Matt Ryan’s bizarrely errant play continues. Meanwhile, Indianapolis might be in good hands with Jacoby Brissett, who showed poise in the Colts’ come-from-behind win over Tennessee last week. Let’s just hope Adam Vinatieri’s kicking woes don’t continue, or they may cost the Colts some games as the season continues. This is an even matchup, but Indy takes the victory here thanks to home-field advantage.
Prediction: Indianapolis 19, Atlanta 17
Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Are the Bills for real? Josh Allen certainly looks like it after leading his squad to victory over the East Rutherford home team for the second week in a row. Buffalo heads back home with an opportunity to begin the year 3-0 for the first time since 2011. All that requires is a victory over the Bengals, which fell from contender status to pretender status after backing up a tight Week 1 loss in Seattle with a home drubbing by San Francisco. Cincinnati’s defense just seemed completely unfocused, perhaps signaling that 2018’s defensive woes haven’t all been mended in the offseason. The Bills strike while the iron is hot and maintain their flawless record.
Prediction: Buffalo 25, Cincinnati 16
Miami Dolphins (0-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
Dolphins fans knew that 2019 wasn’t going to be pretty, but no one could have imagined it would go this poorly. Through two games, the Dolphins have been outscored 102-10: on pace for one of the worst seasons in NFL history. With star defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick being shipped to Pittsburgh on Monday, it’s clear that the tank is in full effect. The beatings will continue with a visit to Dallas on Sunday, as the Cowboys have looked sharp on all ends through two weeks. The Cowboys are 21.5-point favorites, and with the ways these two teams have been playing, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see Dallas cover.
Prediction: Dallas 36, Miami 9
Denver Broncos (0-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-0)
Green Bay appears to be firing on all cylinders, and Denver is still looking for a jumpstart. The Packers defense looks so much better than it did last season, and Aaron Rodgers is, well, Aaron Rodgers. Denver is stuck in neutral, as neither the offense nor the defense have appeared to be anything special. A nonexistent rushing game has Joe Flacco overworking himself, and the defense has yet to record a turnover or a sack. Remember, this defense has playmakers Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Chris Harris. What’s happening? Denver needs to figure it out quickly, but it seems unlikely that they’ll get it all together in time for Green Bay.
Prediction: Green Bay 30, Denver 16
Detroit Lions (1-0-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
To say that Philadelphia’s Sunday night loss in Atlanta was ugly would be an understatement. Besides a solid fourth quarter, Carson Wentz looked lost, and who knows how many of his receivers got banged up. Detroit didn’t look especially impressive either in its win over Los Angeles, but at least Matthew Stafford gave fans some vintage 2016 Lions vibes, correcting his earlier mistakes to lead the Lions to a fourth-quarter victory. This game will ultimately come down to which version of each team shows up. With Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert all possibly out, the bad version of Philadelphia may rear its ugly head once again.
Prediction: Detroit 18, Philadelphia 10
Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
This is the game of the week, and it’s not especially close. After all, only two quarterbacks have seven touchdowns and zero interceptions through two weeks: Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. Yes, Baltimore looked much more human last week against Arizona than it did in its 59-10 stomping of Miami, but Jackson looked just as sharp both through the air and on the ground. Still, it’s going to be tough to outduel the reigning NFL MVP, who threw four touchdowns in a single quarter in Oakland last week. The Ravens give the Chiefs all that they can handle, but the home team ultimately prevails thanks to the arm of Mahomes.
Prediction: Kansas City 39, Baltimore 34
Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
Had the Vikings just relied on what was working for them against Green Bay, they might be coming into this game 2-0. Instead, they pushed aside Dalvin Cook’s spectacular performance on the ground in order to try out Kirk Cousins’ arm. Spoiler alert: It didn’t go very well, as Cousins turned the ball over three times in a narrow loss. Back at home, Minnesota has an opportunity to rebound against a Raiders team that struggled against Kansas City. The Vikings get the win and put themselves back in the NFC North chase… if, and only if, they rely on Cook instead of the inconsistent Cousins. Otherwise, we could see an upset in Minneapolis.
Prediction: Minnesota 26, Oakland 17
New York Jets (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0)
To think that Miami at Dallas might not be the biggest blowout of the week. Everything has gone down the drain for the Jets already. Adam Gase’s offense looks anemic, the defense hasn’t been anything to write home about, and Luke Falk, who was on the practice squad to begin the season, will be now getting his first career start in Foxborough. Talk about rotten luck. Then there’s the Patriots, which just look unstoppable. The only thing that can be considered a weakness is an offensive line that allowed Brady to be sacked twice in Miami. Once again, the point spread is massive: 22.5 in favor of New England. Once again, that could be covered quite easily.
Prediction: New England 46, NY Jets 10
New York Giants (0-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
It’s the end of an era in Big Blue. With Eli Manning officially benched for the quarterback of the future, the Giants are ready to move on with the next step of their rebuild. Daniel Jones showed promise in the preseason, but now it’s time for the youngster from Duke to step up on the big stage. His first test is a relatively difficult one, as he’ll have to fend off a Buccaneers defense that currently ranks eighth in yards allowed per game. Throw in the fact that it’s a road game, and it’s no surprise to see that the rookie signal caller and his Giants are 6.5-point underdogs. Despite having to overcome a stagnant offense, the Buccaneers take home a victory over New York.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 17, NY Giants 12
Carolina Panthers (0-2) at Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1)
Carolina might be in trouble. A week after giving the defending NFC champion Rams a run for their money, the Panthers struggled mightily with the rival Buccaneers. Cam Newton just doesn’t look very sharp. It’s clear that his health is once again a major concern. The Panthers need to play smarter football by putting more of the workload on Christian McCaffrey, a proven NFL star. Still, that strategy might not work out against an Arizona team that played quite well against one of the NFL’s top teams in Baltimore. Expect Carolina to look better in Week 3, but also expect the Cardinals to come out on top, giving Kyler Murray his first NFL victory.
Prediction: Arizona 24, Carolina 16
New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
For the next few weeks, the Saints are going to face a challenge that they haven’t had since 2005: life without Drew Brees. Considering how rusty Teddy Bridgewater looked in Los Angeles last week, that might be a major issue. Bridgewater needs to step up his game quickly before the Saints start sinking. That’s going to be difficult to do against an experienced Seattle team led by Russell Wilson. Don’t expect the Saints to win this game, but if they can keep it close, there might be hope for New Orleans just yet. But, until proven otherwise, the Seahawks steamroll an inexperienced quarterback at home to reach 3-0.
Prediction: Seattle 32, New Orleans 19
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
Different city, same story. Much like New Orleans, Pittsburgh will be facing life without a franchise great in Ben Roethlisberger: this time for an entire season. At least Mason Rudolph’s outing against Seattle was a bit inspiring. If the second-year QB can work on his mechanics, then the Steelers might not be dead after all. They are visiting San Francisco, though, and they’ve shown time and time again how badly they struggle on the west coast. The 49ers are finally starting to show the promise that they’ve been building for years, scoring 72 through two weeks. If all trends play out as predicted, San Francisco wins again, and the Steelers fall to 0-3 for the first time since 2013.
Prediction: San Francisco 30, Pittsburgh 20
Houston Texans (1-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
An enticing offensive showdown showcases two teams that struggled on that end of the ball last week. At least Houston won, despite only dropping 13 on Jacksonville. Meanwhile, the Chargers fell victim to Matthew Stafford’s comeback antics while also scoring a mere 10 points. Those measures are likely just a fluke, and both offenses will get the ball rolling once again in this Week 3 clash. Although Deshaun Watson possesses the superior offensive weapon in DeAndre Hopkins, Philip Rivers has a much more well-rounded crew, including breakout running back Austin Ekeler, who has proved that he can go out for a pass. Chargers win a high-scoring battle.
Prediction: LA Chargers 38, Houston 33
Los Angeles Rams (2-0) at Cleveland Browns (2-0)
The Browns are on national TV for the second week in a row. Last time, it went pretty well, as they downed the Jets 23-3. But Los Angeles a much more difficult opponent. The Rams held a dynamic Saints offense to just nine points in Week 2, and both Jared Goff and Todd Gurley did what they do best when the ball is in their hands. Baker Mayfield still doesn’t quite look like his 2018 self, as he went 19-for-35 with a pick against New York last Sunday. Against the likes of Aaron Donald, Eric Weddle and other defensive playmakers, Baker may field yet another disappointing performance. The defending NFC champs win in Cleveland.
Prediction: LA Rams 30, Cleveland 12
Chicago Bears (1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2)
That Chicago defense looks incredible. It’s just the offense that’s dragging this team down. Even with David Montgomery and Allen Robinson contributing at a high level, Mitchell Trubisky can’t seem to figure it out. Oddly enough, the opposite is true for Washington. Quarterback Case Keenum has looked very impressive through two starts in the burgundy and gold. It’s the defense that’s been disappointing, allowing Philadelphia and Dallas to combine for 63 in the first two games. Can Ryan Kerrigan and company step up against a struggling Bears offense to notch Washington’s first victory of 2019? Don’t be shocked if it happens. Just expect a low score.
Prediction: Washington 13, Chicago 10
DJ Bauer is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.